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FAQ's About Dental X-Rays

November 17th, 2020

Are dental x-rays necessary? Are they safe? How often should they be taken?

If you've had questions like these, you're not alone! Here are some of our most frequently asked questions about dental x-rays from REAL parents like you.

Why do we need to take x-rays if my child's teeth are fine?

Many problems begin painlessly and cannot be seen with the naked eye. X-rays enable the doctor to clearly see the anatomy of your child's teeth, gums, and bone structure to check for abnormalities. Treatment is less complicated, more cost-effective, and has a higher chance of a successful outcome when problems are found early, which is why the doctor doesn't want to wait until something hurts to look at it.

Do x-rays need to be taken at each dental visit?

Not necessarily. Every child's needs are different and the dentist will make recommendations in the best interest of your child's oral health.

Why does my dentist recommend taking different kinds of x-rays?

Different types of x-rays are used to evaluate different structures of the mouth. When looking for something small, like a cavity between the teeth, a "zoomed in" view is necessary. When looking at larger structures, like the development of the jaw, a "zoomed out" view is more appropriate. Some x-ray types require different angles and film sizes that help your doctor get the clearest picture of your health in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

I'm worried about radiation exposure. Are dental x-rays safe?

Yes. Dental imaging today is the safest it has ever been. Dental x-rays are already low in radiation because it's not necessary to penetrate through many layers of the body to get to the teeth. Digital x-ray technology lowers the radiation level even further. To put it in perspective, it would take 50 dental x-rays to equal the same radiation as a flight from New York to San Francisco. One dental x-ray is typically the same  radiation exposure as eating 2 bananas. Curious what other daily events expose you to more radiation than a dental x-ray? Check out this article to learn more.

It's important to weigh the risks when it comes to radiation exposure. A patient is at a much greater risk of harm from an undiagnosed dental issue than from the minimal amount of exposure in a dental x-ray.

My child had x-rays taken at another dental office 8 months ago, can't you look at those instead of taking new ones?

A lot can change in the mouth over time, and no one can predict how fast cavities will grow and spread onto other teeth. To make an accurate diagnosis, the doctor must have the most up to date information. Seeing is knowing. Not seeing is guessing. Our doctors will not guess when it comes to your child's health.

Do you have a question not featured here today? Please ask the doctor and staff at your next check-up!

Sources:

The Importance of Taking Dental X-Rays

Radiation Safety

What Does it Really Take to be Cavity-Free?

August 17th, 2020

Dentistry has seen a lot of change over the last 100 years.

Expecting to eventually lose several (or all!) of your teeth was once the norm. Then preventive dentistry came along and the possibility of your teeth lasting a lifetime became a reality. . . .

So what does it take for the 21st century child to stay cavity-free? Surprisingly, just a few basic steps*:

  1. Follow a Healthy Diet
  2. Establish Good Home Hygiene Habits
  3. Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Healthy Diet**

Diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates create the prefect environment for cavities. Candy and sodas are obvious sources of sugar, but do you know how much sugar is lurking in your everyday foods? Processed foods that are marketed for children (ex: gummy snacks, crackers and chips, juice, breakfast cereals, granola bars, yogurts, etc.) tend to be high in sugars and carbohydrates. Bacteria in the mouth thrives on these substances, giving them plenty of cavity-making fuel.

Need help identifying unhealthy snacks in disguise? Check out this link for tips on decoding the jargon used on kid's food labels.

Whole grains, unprocessed fruits and veggies, and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water instead of reaching for flavored drinks provides the best nutrition for your child's overall body health, including healthy teeth.

** Your pediatrician can help you plan an age-appropriate healthy diet to meet your child's developmental needs.

Home Hygiene

The dental hygienist cleans your child's teeth only twice a year - the other 363 days are up to you! Having a home routine is an important step in maintaining a clean smile. Tooth brushing should begin  as soon as the first tooth erupts, - yes, even babies need their teeth brushed! - and flossing should begin as soon as teeth are touching each other.

Brush the teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste recommendations vary by age. Please ask your dentist what's best for your child at his/her next visit.

Regular Dental Visits

Visit your dentist every 6 months for a dental cleaning and check-up.

The focus of dentistry is prevention. Your board-certified pediatric dentist is specially trained to evaluate your child's mouth, teeth, and development. When issues are caught in the early stages, treatment is less complicated and has a higher rate of success. Your dentist also provides valuable cavity-preventing services such as fluoride treatments and sealants.

Every child's needs are different. Ask your dentist about the best strategy for staying cavity-free at your next dental visit.

 

*PLEASE NOTE: These 3 steps should be considered as basic guidelines for healthy teeth. Visit your dentist for a thorough evaluation on your unique cavity risk and a customized oral health plan that may include more than these 3 guidelines.

 

Sources:

Parents.com - Don't Be Fooled by These Misleading Labels on Kids' Foods

American Dental Association - Brushing Your Teeth

Dentalcare.com - Why a Regular Dental Check-Up is Important

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